The KC Royals think Ben Zobrist is likely to re-sign with the team, but are afraid Alex Gordon is gone, according to rumors heard by Boston Globe reporter Nick Cafardo.
Cafardo sources have indicated that the Kansas City Royals are interested in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Gerardo Parra as replacements, because they don’t believe they need a power hitter to fill-in for Gordon. Instead, they are concerned about replacing his defense.
Before the Red Sox traded for relief ace Craig Kimbrel with the Padres, Cafardo’s sources were telling him that the KC Royals were willing to part with one of their bullpen pieces to land Bradley. However, now that Boston has filled their bullpen need, Bradley no long appears to be in play. In fact, Cafardo hears that new Boston GM loves Jackie Bradley’s defense and doesn’t really want to trade him.
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The soon-to-be 29-year-old Gerardo Parra’s offense would be a big step down from Gordon, since Parra only has a career .730 OPS. Nor is Parra’s defense up to Gordon’s standard. Parra’s career dWAR (defense Wins Above Replacement) is only 3.8, which is a far cry from Alex Gordon’s 22.2. Parra has also posted negative dWAR numbers the last two seasons according to Baseball-Reference.
The only way in which Gerardo Parra resembles Alex Gordon is that he possesses a strong arm. Parra is second in MLB (behind Gordon) with 57 outfield assists since 2011 (Gordon’s first full season as an outfielder).
Perhaps the Kansas City Royals willingness to deal one of their relievers for Bradley explains the team’s interest in free agents like Joakim Soria, Darren O’Day, and Tony Sipp. However, the Bradley deal now looks dead with the Red Sox acquiring Kimbrel. KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore is going to have to fill his outfield needs through alternative means.
Bringing back Ben Zobrist would be coup. The versatile Zobrist would off-set much of the lost offensive pop, and should not carry the same kind of long-term risk as Gordon since he can’t command a long-term deal going into his age 35 season.
Of course, the Kansas City Royals offense would not quite meet the standard they set during the playoffs with both Alex Gordon and Zobrist in the lineup. They did, however, enjoy the American League’s best record in 2015—most of which they had two significant offensive holes at right field and second base.
The KC Royals could win by trading for someone like Jackie Bradley, or signing Gerardo Parra in free-agency. I just think they would need to upgrade their rotation to really feel secure about the resulting downgrade from Alex Gordon.